If there’s anything that Channel 5’s Big Brother has been able to do very well over the past 18 seasons, it is keeping most of its inner workings secret. While the viewing public practically knows everything that happens to contestants inside the iconic Big Brother house, what happens in the days leading up to their onscreen debut has been pretty much secret. That is, of course, until now, as Big Brother transgender alumni Rebekah Shelton, who appeared on the show as Rodrigo Lopez back in 2009, revealed details of the audition process in a recent interview. Just as previously thought by avid fans of the show, BBUK‘s audition process is a long and arduous process.
The interview, which Shelton recently did with The Daily Star, discussed how she was picked as a contestant for Big Brother UK. Apart from this, the popular alumni also discussed what she experienced in the weeks and days leading up to her entrance to the iconic house, including a long, cross-country road trip, a secretive qualification process, and the strains the reality show gave to her relationship then. Shelton also discussed how her introvert nature became one of the primary sources of her anxiety in the series, especially since she was mainly surrounded by extroverted contestants.
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According to Shelton, who still keeps in contact with her fans through social media accounts such as Twitter, the initial audition for the hit reality TV show was a jarring experience due to her introverted nature. Despite seemingly being outclassed by other prospective contestants, however, Shelton stated that she ultimately decided just to be nice to everyone.
“I went to audition to Newcastle and didn’t know anyone. And I remember when I went, there were people jumping around, some were dressed as M&Ms, and I was like ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to make it, I’m not going to get past this stage because I’m so shy.’
“I arrived and was just nice to people, was myself. I passed through every stage but they never told me I was in the show.”
Interestingly, Rebekah stated that after her initial audition, she was not contacted by the producers if she made the cut. Instead, she was simply informed to make sure she had around four months’ worth of luggage ready. Not long after, she was taken by producers out of the country and into a long, arduous, secretive preparation process.
“They said pack for four months, but said that they didn’t know if they wanted me in the house and were gonna put me into hiding.
“They drove me by car for 11 hours to France. I had two chaperones who took me to a beautiful villa with nothing around it.”
One thing that Rebekah did confirm, however, was that during the entire time, she was not able to make any contact with the other prospective contestants. Simply put, Big Brother keeps all its upcoming candidates in strict isolation from each other. Despite this, however, she was given some time to walk around town every day. The routine continued until she received a call stating that she would be going to the Big Brother house in 24 hours.
— Big Brother UK (@bbuk) May 29, 2017
“They took each housemate to a different place and gave them money for two weeks. We used to go to different town every day for a walk and I remember showering on the last day and they called me and said you’re going into the house tomorrow.”
Shelton ultimately made an impact on the 2009 season of Big Brother, where she became one of the most popular contestants on the hit reality TV show. While her experience on Big Brother ultimately ended up costing her relationship with a boyfriend she had before joining the show, Shelton admitted that her time inside the house ultimately changed her life. For one, the former BBUK contestant stated that the support she got from the viewing public was enough to encourage her to come out and transition fully.
“Looking back, I was so innocent when I went on the show, but it’s the best thing I ever did. It gave me so much confidence and made me feel great about myself for the first time.
“I don’t know if I ever would have come out if not for Big Brother. The kindness I received in the UK was overwhelming and helped me come to terms with myself.”
[Featured Image by Channel 5]